Black Sea Coast, Crimea
Photograph by Gregor Lengler, laif/Redux
The Black Sea coast of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula remains a mystery to most North American travelers. With its subtropical climate, underwater grottos, South Shore seaside resorts (including Yalta, Simeiz, Alushta, Koreiz, and Gurzuf), Russian imperial palaces, and dramatic white limestone backdrops, this former “Russian Riviera” of the Soviet era attracts savvy European visitors searching for a less crowded, close-to-home Mediterranean alternative.
Beyond the stress-reducing mineral spas, palm trees, vineyards, bike trails, and secluded beaches, the coast is a significant cultural crossroads blending ancient Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Russian, Tatar, and modern Crimean history and architecture. Visit the terrestrial and underwater ruins at the ancient city of Khersoness (4th-12th century B.C.), the neo-Gothic Swallow's Nest castle perched 130 feet (40 meters) above the sea near Yalta, and the Livadia Palace near Yalta—home of the last of the Russian tsars and site of the Big Three’s (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) 1945 Yalta Conference.
Pictured here: Visitors inside the church at Livadia Palace